The New UK Anti-Terrorist Act
The UK Government is bringing in an act that gives special penalties to those who carry out acts of violence for certain political or religious ends. Acts of violence include not only violence against people but also against property. While the increase in religious and political violence must be addressed, I think there are serious problems with this proposal from a Biblical point of view.
- It has been pointed out that the new Bill will mean that people who trash a field of genetically modified crops or who damage property of a company that is using animals to test cosmetics etc. will receive greater penalties than people who violently mug people on the streets. That seems the wrong way round.
- God has said clearly that violence against human beings that is motivated by personal motives of greed or hatred is serious and must be punished.
- Apart from Paul's injuctions to respect the authorities and institutions of his time "for the Lord's sake", the Bible does not make acquiescence to the political rulers a cardinal virtue. It is often the case that the political system does need to be worked against, because it is wrong.
- In the case of G.M. crops (one current debate in Britain) the voice of those who are against them is not heard in UK political circles. The Government took a line that G.M. is OK and all that needs to happen is to "reassure" a stupid public about it. Any questioning of G.M. was ignored or suppressed. When the poltical authorities refuse to listen to a point of view there is a feeling of deep frustration, and the only other course that people have is to resort to various types of 'direct action' - most of which are construed by the authorities as violent.
- It is similar in the case of animal rights and cruelty.
- In both cases, those who would protest are effectively denied any other channel of protest than direct action. They are denied a serious hearing of their case, and especially of the grounds of their case.
- In both cases, the root of the problem is spiritual. The spiritual stance assumed by the authorities, not the protestors. This spiritual stance is that Science and Economy, and their combination in Business, are unassailable. They are the most important things, and nothing must be permitted to get in their way or even question them. This is a classic form of idolatry.
- It is for reasons of idolatry in particular that God condones politically motivated direct action, even violence. Think about Elijah in I Kings 18.
- The political system is not sacrosanct. So protection of it from those who would question it - by direct action when they are denied other means - should not be elevated above God's clear laws about violence against people.
Copyright (c) Andrew Basden 2000.
Last updated: 15 January 2006